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NLM Technical Bulletin

NLM Technical Bulletin 1997 Sep-Oct; 298

In This Issue:

Year-End Processing (YEP)

dot YEP of Stored and Saved Searches and Automatic SDI's


Rebuilding of CATLINE®/ AVLINE®

MeSH Coming Attractions

MeSH on the Web

Gold Standard Search

Technical Notes


MEDLINE - 1998 Weekly Update Schedule

AIDSLINE - 1998 Weekly Update Schedule

HealthSTAR - 1998 Weekly Update Schedule

NLM Databases - 1998 Monthly Update Schedule

[This link was removed because it is no longer valid] 1998 NLM Pricing Algorithm Chart

MEDLARS Pricing Schedule

Current Issue


Back Issues


Year-End Processing of Stored Searches, Automatic SDIs and Saved Searches


Each year during the late summer and the fall, changes are made to records in MEDLINE, MEDLINE Backfiles, and in other MEDLARS databases. This work, called "Year-End Processing," includes annual changes to Medical Subject Headings (MeSH). While the work goes largely unnoticed as it proceeds, there are some important dates for searchers that are associated with the Year-End Processing.

All stored searches, including Automatic SDI stored searches and saved searches for the ELHILL databases, should be reviewed by searchers for the impact of any changed and new 1998 MeSH headings (MH). A Year-End Processing schedule which includes projected dates for processing Automatic SDIs is found in Appendixes A, B, C and D of this issue.

Please note that NLM will continue to provide Automatic SDI service to users currently participating in the program but no additional users will be added to the Automatic SDI program. Please revise your current stored searches, but do not add new searches. More information about this can be found in the Technical Notes in this issue, NLM Automatic SDI Service Moratorium, on page 2.

1998 MeSH

The 1998 MEDLINE and SDILINE® files will be available online with 1998 MeSH and updated with 9801 Entry Month (EM) data on Monday, December 15, 1997. The CANCERLIT® 9712 (EM) update and the updated CATLINE and AVLINE files will also be available on December 15, 1997 with 1998 MeSH. AIDSLINE and HealthSTAR are expected to be updated with 1998 MeSH in January 1998. Other files using the MeSH vocabulary including AIDSTRIALS, BIOETHICSLINE®, HISTLINE®, HSRPROJ, POPLINE®, SPACELINE, and TOXLINE®) will be maintained with 1998 MeSH at later dates. Watch the MEDLARS online NEWS and future issues of the Technical Bulletin for announcements.

Changes to the MeSH vocabulary for 1998 may be found in the introduction to the Medical Subject Headings - Annotated Alphabetic List, 1998 and online in FILE NEW. The 1998 MeSH in ASCII format is available for downloading from: Please note that this is not in the printed Annotated MeSH format; however, it does contain MeSH descriptors, qualifiers (subheadings) and Supplementary Chemical Records. See the article MeSH on the Web on page 11 for further information.

The Medical Subject Headings - Annotated Alphabetic List, 1998 is also available in print from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS). NTIS ordering information was provided on page 3 of the July-August 1997 Technical Bulletin; online in ELHILL using the $INFO MESHTOOLS command; and from the NLM Web site at

Special Dates for Reviewing Stored Searches

SDILINE Automatic SDI stored searches requiring revision must be deleted using the ELHILL PURGESEARCH command (see Step 6 on page 6) and restored by Thursday, December 4, 1997 in order to receive correct retrieval against 1998 monthly updates. The January 9801 (EM) SDILINE Automatic SDIs will be processed beginning on or about December 6, 1997. Searchers should execute their STORESEARCHes online to examine retrieval between November 17 and December 4, 1997. During this brief time, citations in the December 1997 SDILINE file will contain 1998 MeSH terms. It is during this period of time that searchers can run their STORESEARCHes against the revised SDILINE to check correct operation of stored strategies against the new vocabulary. Only SDILINE will have 1998 vocabulary terms on citations during this time period; MEDLINE and other databases will not.

To check correct operation of stored searches during this designated period, searchers should:

1. Between October 25 - November 14, searchers should record the number of postings retrieved for each SDILINE stored search as processed automatically by NLM for the December 1997 SDILINE (i.e., 9712 (EM), which is scheduled to be run October 25) with the 1997 vocabulary. The number of citations retrieved is listed on the front of each SDI search printout. The name of the stored search is the title of the printout.

For stored searches not processed automatically by NLM, run the stored search(es) by connecting to the ELHILL SDILINE file, and typing the exact stored search name qualified with (SN) for execution. Record the number of postings retrieved for each search.

2. Between November 17 - December 4, searchers should go online and run each SDILINE stored search online against the SDILINE file. Stored searches may be executed online by connecting to SDILINE and typing the stored search name qualified by (SN). The December SDILINE will contain the same citations, and the 1998 MeSH vocabulary. However, the citations are not reindexed with the new 1998 MeSH terms; only MeSH heading changes will appear in this file; new MeSH headings will not retrieve any citations in December SDILINE.

3. Compare the number of postings recorded in Step 1 with those retrieved in Step 2. If the number of postings (i.e., records) retrieved is not equal to the number received in the December 1997 SDILINE (9712 (EM)) printouts that used 1997 vocabulary, searchers may assume the stored search has been affected by a 1998 MeSH vocabulary change.

4. If the search has been affected by a 1998 MeSH vocabulary change, searchers should display the strategy by using the command DISPLAY followed by the stored search name. Do not use the (SN) qualifier. For example: display s601 heart disease.

5. Check the terms in the strategy against the list of new and replaced MeSH headings. On the list titled "Replaced Medical Subject Headings with Their Replacements", terms designated as P (Print Entry Term) or N (Non-Print Entry Term) may still be used as search terms and remain in any stored or saved search. Also, check that terms are mapping to the correct concept; sometimes cross references are pointed to a different MeSH heading for the new year. For example, HEART SURGERY is now a cross reference to CARDIAC SURGERY in Category G, but it used to be its own heading in Category E. Terms designated as C (Supplementary Chemical Term) may remain but must be qualified with (NM). Terms designated as T (Publication Type) may remain but must be qualified with (PT). Terms with no status indicator may not be used as search terms, and must be deleted from all stored and/or saved searches for accurate results.

If a search contains MeSH Tree numbers, the numbers should be checked in the 1998 Medical Subject Headings. CAS Registry Numbers and Names of Substances (NM) should be checked in the online NEW MESH database (type FILE NEW). If the strategies are not too long, searchers may want to enter them online line-by-line and evaluate any No Postings messages to isolate any problem areas. Remember that only one month's data is being searched, so some stored searches may not retrieve any citations. Also, brand new 1998 MeSH headings - those for new concepts - will retrieve no postings because the records were indexed using 1997 MeSH. (Changed headings and entry terms may retrieve postings, however, because they are mapped to previous headings).

6. Purge searches requiring changes using the ELHILL PURGESEARCH command. (For example, PURGESEARCH s601 heart disease).

7. Then store the revised strategy (STORESEARCH) the following day. Type EXPLAIN STORESEARCH for detailed instructions for storing a search. It is possible to purge and store a search on the same day if the name of the new search is different. Varying the name by one character from the old name is sufficient to make the new name unique.

All revised SDILINE search strategies for 9801 (EM) Automatic SDILINE processing should be stored by December 4, 1997.

Other Databases with Stored Searches

Other files which have Automatic SDI service are AIDSLINE, AVLINE, BIOETHICSLINE, CANCERLIT, CATLINE, HealthSTAR, POPLINE, and TOXLINE. These files do not have an equivalent of SDILINE; therefore it is not possible to follow the exact procedures described above for the SDILINE database. Searchers should carefully review any strategies that have been stored for execution by NLM against these databases for possible vocabulary revisions and restore them by the dates listed.


CANCERLIT is expected to be available with 1998 MeSH and the 9712 (EM) update on December 15, 1997. Review and restore any affected searches by December 12, 1997.


AIDSLINE is expected to be available with 1998 MeSH and the 9801 (EM) update on or after January 3, 1998. Changes for 9801 (EM) Automatic SDIs run against AIDSLINE should be made no later than that date.


HealthSTAR is expected to be available with 1998 MeSH and the 9801 (EM) update on or after January 9, 1998. Changes for 9801 (EM) Automatic SDIs run against HealthSTAR should be made by that date.


The CATLINE and AVLINE databases are expected to be updated with 1998 vocabulary on December 15, 1997. Changes for Automatic SDIs should be made by January 3, 1998.


POPLINE SDIs should not be changed yet. Please see future issues of the Technical Bulletin and the online NEWS for announcements about POPLINE and the 1998 vocabulary.


TOXLINE contains MeSH vocabulary in the TOXBIB and BIOSIS subfiles. Stored search strategies for TOXLINE that contain MeSH headings should also be reviewed for 1998 MeSH vocabulary changes. Any changes to these strategies should be reviewed and restored by December 12, 1997. Beginning with the 9712 (EM) TOXLINE update in December, records added to both the TOXBIB and the BIOSIS subfiles will contain 1998 MeSH. 1997 MeSH terms will remain on TOXBIB and BIOSIS records from earlier entry months until the entire TOXLINE file is regenerated in early to mid-1998. Watch the online ELHILL news and the Technical Bulletin for the date of the regeneration.

--prepared by Marcia Zorn
MEDLARS Management Section
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Last updated: 21 August 2012